HK teen jailed for 30 days for assaulting police officer during protests, after appeal court overturns original sentence of probation

24-Oct-2020 Intellasia | South China Morning Post | 6:02 AM Print This Post

A teenager who kicked a Hong Kong police officer chasing anti-government protesters has been jailed for 30 days, after a court decided his original sentence of 12 months’ probation was too lenient.

Prosecutors won another sentencing review on Friday, as the Court of Appeal agreed that Principal Magistrate Ivy Chui Yee-mei had imposed a “manifestly inadequate” sentence when she spared Clifford Kung Yat-kan, 18, from jail in June.

Justice Jeremy Poon Shiu-chor, the Chief Judge of the High Court, said police must be provided sufficient protection to effectively maintain law and order.

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“The appropriate sentence was immediate imprisonment,” the judge said.

At least three other protesters have had their sentences toughened upon prosecutors’ successful review applications in the High Court since serious civil unrest broke out in June last year.

Kung had pleaded guilty to assaulting police, admitting he kicked a sergeant’s left shin while he was walking along Tong Tak Street in Tseung Kwan O on his way to work on November 11, 2019 when there was a citywide strike and mass protests.

Kwun Tong Court heard the officer was chasing after a group of protesters at the time. He tripped but did not fall onto the ground or sustain any injuries as he was wearing shin guards.

Pre-sentencing reports revealed Kung had committed the offence because he was immature and did not know how to handle a crisis.

Kung also wrote to the court explaining he had acted on impulse, without thinking about the consequences, and he regretted his actions.

His defence lawyers further revealed difficult family circumstances, which involved Kung taking care of his ill mother and autistic brother after his father’s passing.

Having considered Kung’s age, background and circumstances of the case, the magistrate adopted recommendations to order supervision by a probation officer, which she believed could help the boy manage stress and crisis.

On Friday, senior assistant director of public prosecutions Margaret Yu Kwok-wai said Tsui had overlooked the seriousness of the case and the need for deterrence.

The prosecutor said the case called for jail time if not community service, which Tsui had considered because Kung had assaulted an officer, delaying his execution of duty while allowing protesters to get away.

She also said the nature of the offence was “extremely serious” because violence targeting police officers would hurt the rule of law, so the norm was to impose immediate imprisonment, even in cases involving the less serious charge of common assault.

Defence counsel Marco Li Kwok-wai conceded that probation was lenient, as past cases have generally resulted in imprisonment, except for that of Amina Mariam Bokhary, the niece of Court of Final Appeal judge Kemal Bokhary, which had sparked a controversy. But Li also argued that sentencing norms were not straitjackets and imprisonment would be too harsh on his client, given his special situation.

“A community service order is a real alternative,” Li said. “It’s not a tiger without teeth or a soft option.”

But Poon, together with Justice Derek Pang Wai-cheong, and Madam Justice Anthea Pang Po-kam, sided with prosecutors in jailing Kung, with a starting point of sentence at eight weeks, discounted by one-third to credit his guilty plea.

Kung was given further discounts because this was a sentencing review, resulting in a final term of 30 days.

The judges will give full reasons in a written judgment at a later date.


Category: Hong Kong

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